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My Apartment

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The nicest thing people have said to me about my apartment is, “It looks just like you.” I’ve had many compliments about my space but none of them makes me feel as satisfied as this. Some people say, “Wow.” One said, “This is the best apartment in all of New York, ever, ever!” (Seriously.) Three people have tried to set me up with interior design gigs. But you know, I’m not sure I could do what I’ve done in my place for someone else. I’ve created my apartment by imagining the space I want to live in and then slowly building it. My space is the physical manifestation of my ideas and dreams.

I imagined my apartment for several years before I even owned an apartment. In my fantasies, the general appearance of the space and many little details took shape. That’s when I started ripping pages out of magazines and catalogs. This activity became an obsession. Sometimes I clipped pictures, sometimes I saved articles, and sometimes I just tore out a page that was a certain color. The piles of clippings became huge, and threatened to fall over and bury me beneath them. That’s when my boyfriend insisted we get a filing cabinet and file all those pieces of paper. This job took us two days of nonstop work.

But, thanks to all that looking and clipping, when I finally bought my apartment I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do with it. First, I stripped everything out. My contractor removed three layers of walls, two layers of ceilings, and opened up the windows to their original frames. The demolition was amazing. My boyfriend said, “Wow. We’ve taken a perfectly nice, ordinary apartment, that we paid more for than anything we’ve bought in our lives…and turned it into a pile of rubble.” “Don’t let the neighbors see what we did,” I said.

Slowly, over the past six years, I have put in one thing after another, piece by piece. One promise I made myself was to buy only things of good quality; if I couldn’t afford a good quality item, I wouldn’t buy the thing at all. I decided that I would rather do without, than continue buying the cheap plastic furnishings I had lived with all my life. And I wouldn’t keep something just because it was free or a good deal. If I didn’t absolutely need it, and it wasn’t quality, out it went. I did shop carefully and keep my eyes open. It’s amazing what you can get in New York through warehouse and sample sales, or store closings. I never paid retail.

An architect friend of mine tells me his clients (who are very, very wealthy) always want him to reassure them that they have good taste. I thought, what is good taste? Who determines what good taste is? I don’t want it, if only because it’s a standard determined by other people, not an intuitive sense coming from within. I think there would be many more interesting and beautiful apartments if people stopped trying to be fashionable or have good taste, and instead learned to listen to their own hearts and minds. To me, the best home design is a consequence of self-knowledge. To clearly know one’s likes and dislikes, needs and desires—both emotional and physical—is the beginning of creating a space.

I read that C.G. Jung slowly constructed his home using ideas he received from deep inner reflection and dreams. In the end, the group of buildings that formed his dwelling became a visual manifestation of his theories of the psyche. As his theories evolved, his home morphed as well, taking shape in a way that mirrored the activity of his mind and spirit. I thought this was consummately beautiful.

For my part, the humble little apartment I live in has become my animal cave, my haven. I feel safe and comforted here, as if surrounded by the warm embrace of a parent. My space is also like my child—the creation of my art and individuality. There are many things in me, and in my life, that I was born with—that were bequeathed to me, whether I will or no. My home is a part of my life that I have made. It is one fulfillment of the Me I have consciously brought into being. If it looks like me—that is good.

It is not finished.


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